If you’ve been following the Monday Night Book Club column, you have probably noticed that nonfiction books really haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. It’s not that I dislike nonfiction. Reading nonfiction books recreationally is a great way to tailor your education to your particular interests and I often work nonfiction into my stack. I guess that sometimes I just get completely caught up in great fiction plots, which leads me to underrepresent some of my favorite nonfiction titles. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is one of the nonfiction books I have most deeply enjoyed. The plot is as intriguing as any piece of fiction, made only more interesting by the fact that it is completely true.
First published in 1980, A People’s History of the United States recounts American history through the lens of the subjugated common people using unique primary sources and provocative fact. Zinn details the harsh realities most history textbooks conveniently skim over. Focusing on class conflict and racial discrimination, A People’s History of the United States portrays a unique perspective challenging those who would call the United States the “land of the free” without some skepticism. Weaving themes of corruption and violence from 1492 to the present, Zinn gives the readers a more complete view of history than one would ever receive from a classic textbook.
A People’s History of the United States enlightened me to the many skeletons the U.S. government has in its closet. Tracing the history of the women’s suffrage movement to the modern fight for reproductive rights helped me to feel more connected with strong female figures of the past. Every American history class should include A People’s History of the United States in its curriculum in the hope of avoiding repetition of wrongs committed in the past and wrongs being committed in the present. Read A People’s History of the United States to gain a better understanding of the origins of the United States and to consider what can be done to ensure freedom in the future.